The original concept for The Bytes Project was based on an American initiative ‘Bytes for Bullets’, which focused on ‘at risk’ young people in Costa Rica, providing them with opportunities for personal and economic development through access to technology.
The Belfast project came about following visits by representatives of DENI to open-access computer projects in the United States. This was stimulated by a concept jointly initiated by the President of Costa Rica, and the former Mayor of San Jose, California. The latter played an influential role in developing the Bytes for Belfast Project, and in the establishment of links with the Apple Corporation which donated Apple Mac PCs, printers and scanners for use within the Project’s Drop-in Centres.
An independent Steering Group was established to implement this concept, with representatives from various statutory agencies including DENI, Training and Employment Agency, Queens University Belfast, University of Ulster, Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education, Northern Ireland Centre for Learning Resources and one private training agency, Springvale Training. A group of six Trustees for the project was also established chaired by Sir George Quigley, Chairman of Ulster Bank plc.
The project received a large start-up donation of equipment from Apple and was initially funded by Making Belfast Work, with additional government finance for innovative regeneration work in disadvantaged areas of Belfast, through the conduit of the Department for Education Northern Ireland.
Official beginning work in June 1993, Bytes is a unique initiative that offers free, unlimited access to technology in a non-pressurised environment, to young people from all backgrounds. Initially, there were four centres in Belfast – The Ashton Centre in the New Lodge, Worknet on the Falls Road, The Glen Parent and Youth Group in Lenadoon and Rathcoole Youth Club.
In 1996 we became The Bytes Project, to recognition our expansion outside of Belfast; with the Derry Bytes centre opening in 1997.
Bytes has run a multitude of projects and schemes since our foundation...
Bytes @ 25
As Bytes celebrates 25 years of work in Northern Ireland...